By Michael Kaiser
I was not born a coffee farmer, but providence would introduce me to one.
In July of 2011, one month after moving to El Salvador, I found myself across the table from Emilio Lopez Diaz, listening to the story of Cuatro M, the collection of coffee farms, processing facilities and their exporting operation for single origin coffees, based in Santa Ana. Since our first encounter, I have been working alongside Emilio and his team. In those two years, he has given me the opportunity to see every aspect of the coffee supply chain.
Now, on the eve of another coffee harvest, I look back and realize that everything I know about specialty coffee, and all I have experienced, is thanks to this coffee farmer. The specialty industry has opened a window through which can be seen a future where coffee producers are not only players, but also game-changers and industry-shapers.
Achieving the mark of specialty is a goal to be pursued. In this article, I will highlight our experiences and work in El Salvador, as well as a common trend within the developing world and a changing industry, to illustrate our belief that this goal is not simply a stationary target. No longer a bull’s-eye we consistently aim toward, but rather a moving target that we chase after, and toward which we can only seek to aim better than our previous efforts.